A 92-year-old house in Dixieland has been transformed into a homey coffee shop that features coffees from Central Florida roasters and plans to offer acoustic entertainment. Hillcrest Coffee at 119 W. Hillcrest St. hasn’t officially opened yet, but owner Brian Goding is serving customers weekdays from 8 a.m. to noon.
“I really wanted to offer a space for live music, local artists, for people to gather for board games or conversation and for work areas and meetings; a place that felt like home,” he said.
Goding, 51, got his inspiration from a brother-in-law who owned the now-closed Birch Tree Coffee on Cleveland Heights Boulevard. He had open mic nights and live music, which made Goding think about what he would do differently if he opened a shop after he left the real estate appraisal business.
Goding has spent several years converting a 1925 Craftsman bungalow with a wrap-around front porch. It had been divided into office spaces by the time Goding bought it in 2013, and he explained that he had to open it back up to turn it into a cozy coffee shop where people could interact.
It took him a year and a half to fully transform the space by exposing the flooring and breaking down walls.
Furniture throughout the store was bought from antique shops around Central Florida. “We took a lot of different things and made something new out of it. Part of the feel for having everything individual and somehow kind of fit together at the same time is what I’m trying to encourage with the community.”
Hillcrest plans to host live music nights, board game night and whatever else the community requests. Goding plans to have acoustic performers who play original music. “I’m not looking for a bunch of cover bands or cover songs,” Goding said. “I want to encourage people to create.”
Goding even plans to keep a guitar on hand in case a customer feels the urge to pick it up and play music.
All of the coffee served at Hillcrest is roasted in Central Florida. Goding buys his coffee from Patriot Coffee in Lakeland, Buddy Brew in Tampa and Ethos in Haines City, and he plans to offer locally produced baked goods and chocolate.
The shop doesn’t have an official open date, but it is open 8 a.m. to noon Mondays through Fridays as Goding is finishing up all of the details and hiring employees to work the various shifts.
Goding says that meeting different kinds of people has been his favorite part about being open. People from Germany and South America are among the diverse customers who have come to check out the new coffee spot, he said.
“I want to encourage the employees to interact with whoever is at the counter and get comfortable enough making their drinks that they can have a conversation about something that doesn’t involve coffee,” Goding said.